By: MOIPONE MALEFANEand ZINE GEORGE
Newly-elected ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa has had a dramatic first day as the party’s number one leader.
This comes after the ANC’s national conference was shaken by a dispute over the election of the party’s new secretary-general, which saw Ace Magashule defeating Senzo Mchunu even though he had been expected to win the position.
The Elections Agency of the ANC yesterday conceded that it had made a blunder when it failed to inform the plenary about 68 delegates who registered to vote during the five-day elective meeting, but failed to do so.
Supporters of Mchunu believe that the number could have swung the votes in their favour and he would have won the position instead of Magashule.
The Elections Agency admitted the blunder at a meeting with the elective conference steering committee, which is chaired by newly elected national chairman Gwede Mantashe and comprises chairpersons of ANC provinces.
An ANC insider who was at the meeting said there were two separate figures at the centre of the controversy.
One is the 68 which appears in the records of each candidate “as a number of delegates who failed to vote”.
The other is the 63 ANC members who were bused to Nasrec, assuming that they were delegates to the conference even though they were not in the credentials report.
“These were people whose branches failed the verification process.
“In conclusion both these votes couldn’t have been part of the conference register. The 68 chose not to vote and the 63 did not qualify to be part of the conference,” the source who attended the meeting said.
The elections commission was scheduled to clarify the matter at a plenary that was scheduled to start at 6pm yesterday.
“This simply means there was no reason to doubt the conference credentials and outcomes of the election,” the source added.
The steering committee sat in a meeting for the better part of yesterday in a bid to resolve the matter.
In the meantime, delegates broke into commissions to deliberate policy resolutions that the ANC has to adopt at the end of the conference, which is expected to end today.
ANC spokesman Zizi Kodwa confirmed the dispute over the election of the new secretary-general.
Voting for the new national executive committee of the ANC was expected to resume last night, with Fikile Mbalula, Ronald Lamola, Joel Netshitenzhe and Ayanda Dlodlo respectively topping the list.
This is where the ANC will invoke its gender parity policy, meaning the 80-member NEC would comprise 40 men and 40 women.
Meanwhile Ramaphosa, accompanied by new treasurer-general Paul Mashatile, did a walkabout at the stalls, where vendors were selling ANC merchandise.
In a brief address to journalists, Ramaphosa steered clear of the vote dispute, saying only that the conference was going well. “We have proven again that the ANC is able to rise above its strength,” he said.
Not even a single kanga bearing former president Jacob Zuma’s face was being sold. Zuma’s face has been replaced by Ramaphosa’s.
Gerald Fiki, where Ramaphosa bought two T-shirts, was elated, saying he would hang on to the R600 the ANC president paid with because it would bring him more luck.
“The president said we all sell similar things and that made me think ‘how can I be innovative’,” he said.
Ellen Ncube said Ramaphosa bought a kanga bearing his face but did not pay her saying he would send people to bring the money.